Since the Gram Amp 3 has warmed up I am enjoying the benefits of a low output moving coil cartridge. The Gold used to sound dull, slow and lacking dynamics but not anymore. The sound has improved in about all aspects from deeper more solid bass to incredible detail in the treble. The Gram Amp 3 was designed for wider bandwidth and I appreciate the benefits. On the Graham Slee site they warn that the increased bandwidth increases the noise level a little but unless you have your ear at the tweeter I can not imagine most users would notice it let alone be bothered by it.
The soundstage is deeper, wider and layered in a way that you can hear more of the orchestra. The sound is not just a single row of musicians but rows of musicians performing on a good recording. I like that all of a sudden from the back of the orchestra you hear a note from a single musician and then slowly the orchestra joins in until you have this incredible body of sound.
Vocals are more natural. I just listened to "Gershwin Live" with Michael Tilson Thomas and Sarah Vaughan. I have owned that record for years and the combo of Gold and Gram Amp 3 allowed me to hear all the intracacies and range of Sarah Vaughan's voice. Large choral groups are wonderful to listen to with the increased soundstage and naturalness of the voices.
Needless to say the Gram Amp 3 (low mc cartridge only) is superior with the Benz than the Cambridge Audio 640P or Rotel RQ 970BX. In the past when I mentioned not being pleased with the Benz I was told I needed a new phono pre-amp and they were right and I am now wondering why I waited so long. This combination proves to me once again that vinyl rules.
Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, Funk Firm Achroplat, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Audio Technica F7, Moon 110LP w/PSU
Digital Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd, Marantz SA 8001
Its so true. The phono stage is possibly the best example of a synergistic machine, in audio terms. It really represents the "gate" for a vinyl lover. As you've shown us John, the cart is nothing without the assistance of proper processing.
It wasn't too long ago I took my Technics table in to audition the newest Pro-Ject Tube Box. Talk about dissapointment. The Tube Box was amazing, my table on the other hand, wasn't. I could hear the Tube Box mocking me underneath the music.
"Hahahaha, is this all you have? Let me show you how low your table's fidelity is..."
I left that audition completely deflated. It's great to see that you have found the right combination John. I'm left wondering, has this improvement brought back any excitement regarding your table? I know you've been looking around, romancing the idea. Sounds like this might be the shot in the arm your Rega needed.
Also, do you find it discriminates against your older/worn LP's? Or is it able to smooth out those problems? I was thinking about an Ortofon X1 a while back, but went with the 2M instead.